Sparkling water on tap, bean bags in the rec room, a foosball table – what really matters when it comes to creating the optimal work environment? Employees are any company’s most valuable asset, and they need to have an optimal work environment so that they can achieve their goals and further the company’s success.
Yet with so many variables to consider, it can seem like an impossible task. What exactly is the optimal work environment, and can it really be achieved?
What can be considered an optimal work environment?
The optimal work environment is one that focuses on the development, functionality, and ease of success of employees. It can manifest through core values, business structures, physical features, and more.
Employees should be able to:
- Feel safe
- Be productive
- Have healthy workplace relationships
- Explore their full potential
- Experience progress and healthy growth in their career
- Work peacefully without any physical, emotional, or mental threat or discrimination
Why an optimal work environment matters
The ideal work environment brings many benefits, such as:
- Employees feel motivated and appreciated – when employees actually enjoy their work and find fulfillment in it, they can enjoy a better standard of working and overall better quality of life.
- Teamwork and collaboration are enhanced – the optimal work environment makes collaborating within and between teams way better. More work can get done and to a higher standard as well.
- Employees are more loyal – if employees can see that their company really cares about them and treats them well, then there’s a seriously reduced chance of employees job-hopping. Instead, it’s very likely that employees will stay on with their company for long periods of time.
- Productivity is higher – all of the above and more means that companies enjoy high levels of productivity because they invest in the success of their employees.
How to create the optimal work environment
It takes a lot to create the optimal work environment, but the hundreds of variables that need to be fine-tuned can be categorized into a few key areas.
1. Working conditions
These are the initiatives and activities that have been agreed to by both the employer and employees. They’re basically the terms of work and reflect how the company views the employee. Some examples are salaries, benefits, training programs, work hours, overtime pay, bonuses, pay increases, promotion structures, and incentives.
Employees shouldn’t just be compensated fairly, but well and given plenty of opportunities to say no to extra work outside their agreed upon load and hours, but also rewarded for choosing to do so. They should have all of the benefits that the company can offer them (insurance, private medical care, lots of paid time off, etc.) as well as clear progression throughout their career.
There must also be the choice for remote or at least hybrid work where possible. Working conditions should be fair for remote workers too; they must have the same access to all of the benefits that their in-house counterparts do.
2. Company culture
Company culture is how everyone in the company views and treats each other as well as how outsiders view the company. This covers everything from policies and regulations to unspoken rules and status quos as well.
Employees should face repercussions for not treating each other with respect and dignity, have clear guidelines for what is and isn’t acceptable at the workplace, and be able to escalate a matter to HR if things get out of hand. There shouldn’t be any shaming or sneering at those who find themselves suffering or need help with something.
This should extend to remote workers too, who may find it more difficult to share in or understand company culture since they aren’t present physically. Companies should have policies in place to help remote workers get the support that they need, not just for understanding contexts and ongoing events, but for asking for help and collaborating with other employees.
3. Physical features
And last but not least, employees should have all of their physical needs met as well. The physical structure of the building for physical working should be large enough to accommodate all staff present comfortably, have clean and sufficient amenities, and have all of the necessary fixtures and fittings.
Lighting, seats, desks, monitors, whatever it may be that employees need to work in comfort should be provided. This goes for remote workers too; companies should provide all of these things for remote staff to make sure that they too can get the most out of their work day – an appropriate laptop, work phone, an office chair, the list goes on.
An ongoing task
Creating the optimal work environment doesn’t happen overnight, and it definitely isn’t easy to maintain it. The hard work is well worth it however, as the benefits that come with doing so are massive. Working in a positive work environment allows employees to be the best version of themselves, and take the company further than ever before.
No one should settle for any less than a company that values them and works hard to show it.